Checking Out Kids’ Blood Pressure August 21, 2007Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Diseases, Human Body, Nutrition and Health, Obesity, Think About It.
When most of us think about high blood pressure – hypertension – we think of it as being a problem found in adults. Not so! Hypertension is also a problem for youth and it’s mostly related to the growing number of kids and teens who are obese.
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Your blood pressure is the pressure exerted by your blood against vessel walls as your heart pumps. When your heart contracts, it moves blood into vessels – increasing pressure – and when your heart relaxes, blood pressure lowers. Your blood pressure also fluctuates from minute to minute. It’s affected by lots of stuff such as exercise, rest, diet, and posture.
A study performed by Dr. Matthew Hansen and other researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland looked at over 14,000 young people aged 3 to 18. The results, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed a total of 507 cases of hypertension. One really worrying feature of the study was that 376 of those 507 cases were previously undiagnosed, even though patients had received at least three medical check-ups.
Dangers Of Hypertension
One of the scary things about high blood pressure is that it often goes undiagnosed, especially in youth. When blood pressure is high, the heart and arteries have a much heavier workload. All of this extra pumping by the heart as well as the strain on the arteries can be exhausting! Over time, the heart and arteries won’t work as well as they should, which can lead to organ damage – particularly the kidneys. There often aren’t any noticeable symptoms of hypertension, which can also make it tough to diagnose in the first place.
Researchers suggested that changes needed to be made to electronic medical recording, so that doctors could identify the patients who were most at risk. This means doctors can perform regular check-ups and monitoring. If a patient is found to have hypertension, treatment can start right away to prevent problems down the road.
Is there really good news? Yep, there sure is! Despite the severe effects that can occur from untreated hypertension, those who do obtain early treatment can usually lead full and active lives. Also good news is that a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent future complications associated with hypertension. Lifestyle changes like adding in more fruits and vegetables, lowering salt intake and exercising regularly can really make a difference. In fact, these sorts of beneficial lifestyle choices can also work well in kids and teens who don’t have hypertension. By taking care of yourself, you can help to prevent ever getting hypertension. It’s not too early to start now!